Thursday, June 30, 2011

Catholics! Mind your language

In a recent post I referred to the Martin Mosebach interview with Paul Badde for 'Die Welt', the full text of which was published by 'Rorate Caeli' on May 30th this year. The first question was mildly irritating because it displayed apparent ignorance of the fact that it was generally known (I thought) that 'Summorum Pontificum' (hereinafter SP) was initiated for an initial period of three years, after which time, the Pope and Ecclesia Dei would assess how it had been received and implemented. 'Universae Ecclesiae' did not therefore come out of the blue but had long been anxiously awaited, particularly by pro-Benedict 'reform of the reform Catholics. Knowing some of Badde's other work, one could only assume a willingness on his part to assume that ignorance for the sake of the readership of 'Die Welt'

I found the second question quite shocking.'The Instruction (UE) speaks of "two usages" of the one Roman rite. Doesn't this open the door to a creeping new schism?'
Why shocking? First because it showed that Badde had not read and understood SP, or at least had to assume that his readers would not have done so, telling in itself; second because the question seemed to accuse the Pope of encouraging schism and therefore showed not only a misunderstanding of the his intentions, but also of the meaning and history of the word 'schism'; and thirdly because I was surprised to see the word in print at all. But if I was shocked by the question, I was stunned by Mosebach's answer:
"There's already a schism, not between supporters of the new and old rites, but between those Catholics who adhere to the old sacramental theology of the Church as was solemnly confirmed by Vatican II, and those who assert that Vatican II founded a new Church with a new theology and new sacraments. This latter doctrine has been diffused wholesale and against the better knowledge of its promoters, in the seminaries, universities and Catholic Academies. This is what has fostered the danger of a schism.".

I was stunned because almost four years ago, after the promulgation of the SP, when there had been sufficient time to assess the extent to which  it was being swept under episcopal carpets, consigned to diocesan wastepaper baskets, being deliberately misinterpreted/misrepresented, or simply ignored, I wrote in a letter to a close spiritual friend:
 "Opponents of the SP accuse it of being divisive. On the contrary, I suggest that it is they who are divisive. There has been serious division in the Church for at least the last 30 years. Those who oppose that division have been stifled, but not into complete silence. I see this as a deep, and largely hidden wound in the Church. It is not just a matter of Latin versus the vernacular, or of the TLM versus the NO. It has to do with a different theological understanding. In the SP Pope Benedict exposes and identifies the wound and asks the whole Church to help him cleanse  salve and heal it."

Even in that letter I did not refer to this wound as 'schism'. But the reason it is so deadly is that it is a schism that remains in the heart of the Church. The question was asked recently as to why dissenting 'Catholics' remain in the Church, why they do not do the honest thing and leave her. Surely the answer is fairly obvious. They do not need to leave because the Church allows them to stay.

Later in the Die Welt interview Badde claims that the promotion of the older liturgy has led to 'so much conflict'. I would challenge his use of the word conflict. That there is opposition to it cannot be denied. But its supporters do not any more need to fight back, except by positive promotion of what they are now able to do  because Pope Benedict has protected them. As Mosebach points out he has "created legal prerequistes for returning the Old Rite to complete freedom.  No bishop who would like to impede the Old Rite can cite legal reasons anymore." If there is conflict, it is between Pope Benedict and those who seem unable to comply with his wishes. Mosebach also speaks of "the misunderstanding, so perilous for the Church, that Vatican II established a new Church. The struggle surrounding this  .... must be endured to the end. Covering it up with peaceful phrases doesn't help the Church."

To me 'divisive'  is a dangerous euphemism for schismatic.The irony is that the former term is one most often used by opponents of  the initiatives of the successor of Peter. The truth of the matter is that they would call the SP and UE schismatic if they dared. (Badde almost did in his second question.) Or perhaps that wouldn't be necessary because schism becomes an outdated concept when all opinions that deny the Magisterium are taken as having an equal right to be considered and debated as viable. As far as I am concerned that is Protestantism.

We need to start calling a spade a spade.

To be continued



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